The linebacker corps at Ole Miss is thinning by the day, meaning the opportunity for prized freshman C.J. Johnson just gets a little bigger by the day.
On Monday, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt announced that sophomore linebacker Clarence Jackson had been dismissed from the team along with sophomore defensive end Delvin Jones following their arrests on public drunkenness charges last week. Jackson ended the spring as the Rebels' starter at weak side linebacker. Jones was on down the depth chart as a reserve at defensive end.
In Jones' case, he had stepped in for D.T. Shackelford as a starter after Shackelford suffered a knee injury during the final week of spring practice. Shackelford isn't expected back for the season.
Now, more than ever, Ole Miss needs Johnson to come in, learn the defense as quickly as possible this summer and be ready to go for preseason camp. The Rebels love his size and athletic ability, but there won't be the luxury of bringing him along slowly.
It was obvious that Jackson's days were numbered last week following his arrest. Like a lot of coaches, Nutt has shown a willingness in the past to give players second chances. But given Jackson's suspension last fall when he was charged by campus police for burglary after allegedly taking a television set that belonged to a mathematics classroom, Nutt wasn't about to be burned a third time by Jackson and cut him loose.